Saturday, December 3, 2011

First run with the Fitcorp Gang!

So today was the beginning of the Fitcorp 2012 Boston Marathon Training Program, so like a crazy man, I set the alarm for 5:30am (didn't need the alarm as I was up at 5:15 all on my own) to give myself enough time to be able to get on the road by 6:30.  I needed to be out that early to give myself enough time to get into Boston to meet up with the other runners at 7:30.  As Fitcorp is located at 1 Beacon Street (near the State House) in Boston, the surrounding streets are all one-way, so if you miss a turn, you have to go around and around and around to find your way back again (thanks, colonial forefathers, for laying out a city on top of cow paths......I guess they didn't know of parallel and perpendicular lines back in the 18th century!).  Anyway, I found my way in without much trouble, found a place to park, and made my way into the facility.

The Fitcorp at 1 Beacon Street is a really nice facility and the staff were very friendly.  Of course, we weren't there to use the machines.....we were there to RUN!  Once I'd stowed my stuff in the locker, I headed out to the lobby where I ran into several of the other MFNE runners (Kevin, Erica, & Lindsey), as well as our "fearless leader", Trish.  After a welcome announcement from the Fitcorp staff, we all shuffled out into the chilly morning air.  After some final stretches and iPod startups, the group all set off running.

Except for yours truly.....

You see, I'm the proud owner of a Garmin Forerunner GPS watch.  It's an amazing little device which tracks my time and distance, calculates mile splits, average speed, as well as heart rate.  It provides a lot of data which can really help with keeping track of progress.

The only needs to locate the GPS satellites in order to work!

Now at home, that's never a problem.  I turn it on and put it out on top of my car in the driveway while I finish getting dressed for my run.  By the time I come back out, it's located the satellites and is ready for use.  Strap it on, and away we go.

But in the city this morning, the tall buildings were blocking the signal, so I stood there looking ridiculously dorky with my left arm extended, hoping it would find the signal so I could get started.  As I watched the group vanish, I also began to feel worse, as my buddy Kevin was patiently waiting for me so we could run together.  So now I wasn't just holding myself up, I was holding up someone else as well.  Great....way to go, Bill.....making friends wherever you go!

Another woman was having a similar problem with her Garmin.....naturally, hers loaded up before mine.

Finally, I got tired of waiting and said to Kevin "lets go", and away we went down Beacon Street. 

The planned run provided lots of different mileage options.  The route was essentially an out-and-back on Beacon Street.  The 4 mile option turned around near Kenmore Square, the 6 (which I chose) took you out to Brookline, and the 8 and 10 mile options went out to Cleveland Circle.  The Fitcorp runs take you out on the marathon course, so you gain experience on the same city streets you'll be running on in April.

Running with Kevin was great, as the conversation flowed and the time passed effortlessly.  After a while, I glanced down at my wrist and noticed that the Garmin had actually started recording my distance, but several minutes had already ticked by, so the average speed was basically a walking pace (something like 13:30 per mile).  Oh well, can't stress about the mileage missed (think it only ended up missing the first 1/2 mile) so get on with the run.  I'm very accustomed to running by myself, so it was a very welcome change to have someone to run with.  The pace may have been a bit faster than I had planned, but it wasn't putting me in the "red zone" either.  The hardest part of the run was that most of it was spent on the sidewalk.....a place I almost NEVER run.  Some of the sidewalks (particularly in the tony Beacon Hill neighborhood) are made up of uneven bricks, so I had to maintain a keen awareness of how and where my feet were landing.  Between that and dodging construction and various pedestrians, there wasn't any time where I could reach that "zen" point where my brain shuts off and I completely relax.   Still, it was great fun, and having a good running partner really helped!

At the 3 mile point, the Fitcorp people had set up a water stop, so Kevin and I pulled over and grabbed some water.  I thanked him for running the first part with me and wished him well as he left to continue on.  As for me, I caught my breath for a moment, quietly sipped my water, and thought about how fortunate I was to be out running through this magnificent city on such a beautiful morning.  I also thought about what I was missing, as Ben's Cub Scout Troop were having a pancake breakfast fundraiser at the Elks Club in Franklin.  The unfortunate downside of marathon training is the time sacrificed away from one's family and even though I always try to make sure I'm available, there are times when I'm not going to be there.  So with that thought, I tossed the empty cup in the trash, took a deep breath, and turned back up Beacon Street and headed back to Fitcorp.

The run back was not nearly as much fun as the run out, as this time I was alone.  I passed a few runners, and was myself passed by a few others, but everyone was encouraging and friendly.  I also saw other groups of runners heading in the opposite direction who all looked like they were also taking part in marathon training programs but they didn't even wave or say hello.  I hate that......whenever I'm out running and see another runner, I always wave and say hello.  More often than not, you get a smile and a wave back.....from one road-warrior to another.  It doesn't take much energy to wave and smile, does it?  Really bugs me when my courtesy isn't returned!

Anyhoo........dragged my carcass up Beacon Street, past the Boston Common and the State House (love that golden dome shining in the sun!) and next thing I know I was done.  5.7 miles in 57:09....10:02 per mile.  I was shooting for 10, and basically hit my target.  After a quick shower and change, I was back in my car and heading back out of the city, feeling great and looking forward to the next group run.  It was definitely worth getting out of bed early and driving all the way into Boston to take part!

Next Saturday, Team Running For Cover is going to be meeting up in Newton for a group run.......pretty sure we're going to be running the legendary Newton hills.....including Heartbreak Hill!  I know it's not going to be the same as when you hit it after 20 miles of running, but it will be so cool to get the feel for the hills nonetheless.   Can't wait!

Finally, I'll sign off with the link to my fundraising page.......please take a look and give generously!  Thanks for reading!!!!

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